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Alstom plans new train services between London and Wrexham



New train services between London, the Midlands, Shropshire and North Wales have been proposed.

Train and rail infrastructure supplier Alstom said its planned operation will offer passengers new direct links, quicker journeys and “more competitive fares”.

Services are proposed to run between London Euston and Wrexham up to five times per day in each direction from next year.

They would call at Milton Keynes, Nuneaton, Coleshill Parkway, Walsall, Darlaston, Wolverhampton, Telford Central, Shrewsbury and Gobowen.

Avanti West Coast is to withdraw its current daily return service between London Euston and Shrewsbury in June.

It has been 13 years since train company Wrexham & Shropshire – which operated between London Marylebone and Wrexham via Shrewsbury – ceased trading due to mounting losses.

Alstom’s proposed new operation is named Wrexham, Shropshire and Midlands Railway (WSMR), and is being developed in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail.

An application to run services will be submitted to regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on Thursday.

WSMR would operate on an open access basis, meaning it would receive no taxpayer-funded subsidies and take on all revenue risk.

Rail minister Hew Merriman said: “These exciting proposals could see better connections for communities across North Wales and the Midlands, including direct services to London from Shrewsbury, Telford and Wrexham.

“Competition delivers choice for passengers and drives up standards, which is why we continue to work with industry to help make the most of open access rail.”

Most train operators in England are paid a management fee, with the UK Government holding responsibility for costs and revenue.

ScotRail and Transport for Wales Rail are under public ownership.

Alstom is the largest private rail operator in North America but if its WSMR plans get the go ahead it will be the first time it has run services in the UK.

The company’s managing director in the UK and Ireland, Nick Crossfield, said: “As the country’s leading supplier of rolling stock and train services, it makes perfect sense that we now move into operating our own fleet to serve passengers directly.

“Having been part of the fabric of UK rail for two centuries, we’re excited to enter this new era as an open access operator.”

SLC Rail managing director Ian Walters said: “From the Welsh borders to the Midlands, our routes will forge new connections, linking overlooked regions of England and Wales with direct services to and from London.

“Passengers will benefit from more competitive fares and new technology to simplify ticket purchasing for our new services.

“Delighting the customer will be at the forefront of what we do.

“We want WSMR passengers to experience a new excellence in customer service onboard our intercity trains.”

Andy Bagnall, chief executive of industry body Rail Partners, said: “The evidence both here in Britain and across Europe shows that where more commercial freedom exists for operators, it leads to better service, cheaper fares and greater efficiencies.

“To deliver more benefits to passengers, Government should make it a priority to remove barriers to open access operations now and during the next parliament, in parallel to wider reform that harnesses private sector operators within a new public body.”

Last week, the ORR approved an application by Grand Union Trains to launch new services between London Euston and the city of Stirling in central Scotland from June 2025, calling at stations such as Milton Keynes Central, Crewe and Preston.

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